Saturday, June 4

Dairy Routine at Erilyn Farms

And POOF, just like that our lives changed again!   Seriously though. Those who think that farmers and farming life is all glamorous do not know the ins and outs of a farmers life at all. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. Just stating the facts.  We are up at 6:30AM each day whether we want to be or not.  Full udders wont wait, nor should they have to.  

Eric is the milk maid here at Erilyn Farms, I am simply his helper.  You can see the plumbing on the wall to the left of him - yeh he is a plumber as well.  Oh, did I mention he rewired the whole barn and installed new lights where none were before - yeh he is an electrician as well.   Oh... that table behind him made from reclaimed barnwood... yeh he is a carpenter as too.   The truth is I have a dear husband with MANY talents and gifts, he can pretty much do anything. 

The little calf is still with Fiona (the momma) during the day hours on pasture, but is sleeping in his own stall in the barn each night.  With this routine, he is no longer nursing after 7PM each night.  From 7PM until 7AM she is nurse free, leaving a full udder each morning.   Next Thursday (June 9th) he will be 4 weeks old and at that time he will no longer be on pasture with Fiona at all.  This change will take us to a morning milking and an evening milking.  The baby calf will still get nourishment from his beautiful momma, but through being bottle fed as well as forage in his own pasture.  On our morning milking we are collecting a little over a gallon of milk each day, and the baby calf cleans her up afterwards milking her out completely.   That amount will likely double once we take the calf off of her. 

Little Man waiting in the stall for his sweet momma!

Our daily routine for milking only consist of :  sanitizing the milker, rinsing the milker, wiping Fiona's udder down as well as each teat, dipping her teats before putting her on the machine, preparing her food that she will eat as she is getting milked, getting her in the shoot and setting her teats up on the machine for milking, THEN  clean her stall out while she is being milked, clean and sanitize the stainless steel pail for transferring milk to the house for bottling, filling her hay baskets up, replenishing her water buckets, getting little man ready to nurser her out after we have completed the milking.  FINALLY - transfer milk from milker, milker has to be cleaned  and set aside for next milking.

Then we tend to our other farm animals. I would like for this to be done on a quicker time scale, but for now it takes us a little over an hour and a half.   We are so blessed!

Wednesday, May 25

Meet.... um... Baby Calf

A few days after our donkey, Gavin arrived here on the farm Fiona was preparing for her forthcoming calf.  For several days leading up to the birth of the little bull calf, we dreadfully set our alarms for every two hours throughout the night and into the mornings.  On Thursday EARLY morning on my third trip out to the barn to check on Fiona's progress I found her with a little hoof having been birthed.  I immediately called Eric to give him the exciting news!!  By the time he reached the barn, I realized we only had one hoof and a nose, not two hoofs and a nose as it should have been.

Yes, you guessed it, we had to intervene and help Fiona out.  We waited a bit to make sure she needed our assistance before scrubbing up and going in.   After pushing and making no progress we made the decision to assist.  I was a bit frightened because the little calf's tongue was hanging off to the side of its mouth and I had never seen this before. Of course, I was assured by our friend Bob, who is a dairy farmer, that this was perfectly normal!  Whew!   After some careful reaching around, I finally was able to feel the calf's other front leg.  I carefully pushed the other foot and head back so I could realign the two front feet along with the head so birthing could go smoothly. Once that bit of help was done, Fiona pushed on her next contraction and we had a baby calf on the ground!

Wednesday, May 18

Meet Gavin

We started our small farming efforts in 2010 here at our homestead in Northwest Florida with 6 tiny poults.   A month or so later we added 3 Californian/New Zealand rabbits to the mix and really from there I have sort of lost count and track of what animals have come and gone!   We went from just a few hens to supply our table to a large flock that now feeds not only us but many families who are seeking more wholesome clean food options.   Over the last few years we have had some loss to our flocks along the way.   These are the realities of farm life, as hard as it is sometimes.

We went out to the barn one morning this past month to find 7 of our beautiful plump meat birds slaughtered and laying all over their pasture - from corner to corner was carnage.   I was livid. I work hard to raise good clean meat for our freezer, for not only us but also our grown children and their families.  To have this kind of loss was unbelievable and made me heartsick.    Through the years of farming here at Erilyn Farms we have had to increase the strength of our fences, with a smaller mesh so predators were deterred; we even had a beautiful guardian dog at one time.  He was one of the sweetest, most loving dogs you would ever hope to meet.  He was not really concerned with guarding however. So soon we found that it was necessary to rehome him.   We have been without a guardian for our flocks since.  

In order to keep foxes, coyotes, and opossums etc away we made the decision to seek out a candidate for that job!  We found him!

Meet Gavin White Hawk, isn't he gorgeous?!  Eric and  I went to meet Gavin a few days ago, and surely we fell in love with him at first sight!  Today we brought him to his forever home, here at the farm.

Tuesday, May 17

Days of May at Erilyn Farm

Today as I did a walk about here at Erilyn Farm, I took my macro lens along with me and snapped a few pictures here and there. It is a lovely time to get some macro shots with so many things in bloom!  Our veggies are finally putting on fruits, the weather had been so strangely cool that the poor plants didn't know if they should grow or not.

We have some not so pretty news, but hopefully the allure of these gorgeous blooms will help balance it all out!  We recently moved our meat birds into one of our vacant pastured areas. All was well. THEN one morning when we went out for feeding, over half of our meat birds were all over the area... So all of that to say we found ourselves in need of some type of guardian for our farm.

We started our search for a donkey for Erilyn Farm and within a few weeks of not finding anything, I posted a LOOKING FOR post on a few groups on good ole FaceBook.  Within just a few hours, I had a response.  We are having the pleasure and privilege of taking in a beautiful gentle donkey!  More on him later!

We have a lot of exciting news that will be coming at you right here, very soon.

Sunday, May 8

On the Farm...

Yeh. Yeh. I know. Time has eluded me once again!   I do desire to be here, to write and record, if only for my own record. I will soon have some sweet things I am going to want to record and share on a regular basis.   So... once again I am trying to engage and stay as I once did years ago, writing the story of our simple every day lives and the adventures here at Erilyn Farms!

Since I last made an entry we received a large shipment of baby chicks in the mail; 12 of which were our yearly order of meat birds (jumbo cornish rocks).   Sadly last night we lost 7 of them to some beastly predator.  You cannot imagine my saddened state when I entered the area to feed the meat birds early this morning.   I collected them up and swore off ever getting another animal to raise here on this farm.  Of course that was, hogwash.   We are now on the hunt for a young donkey to come live out his/her days on the farm as our predatory protector of the creatures who call this home.

Eric has been working incredibly hard for the last week or so getting everything in order for our milking parlor, refrigeration of milk etc.  He rewired the whole barn since he was working with the electrical he decided to go ahead and get everything up to code and proper.   Soon Fiona, our Guernsey will give birth to her first calf, we C A N hardly wait!

Saturday, February 13

Happy Valentines Day!

Let us always greet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love.  ~mother teresa

    I have recently failed strongly in this area and it is not something I like to admit to. I desire to be a soul who uplifts, who is easy going and seems I got a bit of work to do.

For it was not into my ear that you whispered but into my heart; it was not my lips that you kissed but my soul.  ~judy garland

   Many years ago, this month in fact, me and my beloved were united as one to brave a world TOGETHER from that day forth. It has not always been easy and it still isn't easy but our love story gets more beautiful as time passes along.

Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.   ~hellen keller

   This reminds me of a text my beloved and I shared just the other day:  I received a text that stated: You are the jam in my jelly roll.  As I search my busy mind trying to find something that would top his sweet expression of love for me, I came up with this:  You are the sun in my sky!  To which, he quickly responded.... WHAT IF IT'S DARK?   The fact is, the sun is still there even when it is dark you just can't see it.


Sunday, January 24

At Peace with Time

Do you remember those days when you were in grade school (elementary school for all you younger readers) when the hours would seem to drag by ever so slowly?  Time itself seemed to stand still? Then you graduated from high school and the minutes seemed to fly by like nobody's business?!   And to amp that up a bit, you get married and have children right away. As you witness the exponential growth of your child, that itself becomes more of a tangible marker of how fast the days, months and years truly do march on.

None of us will live forever on this earth. None of us will hold onto our youthful radiance as much as any one of us might like.  In fact, it is fleeting. Fleeting? We have all heard that saying, Beauty is only skin deep. For I myself, have seen some of the most beautiful people, then when I had the opportunity to witness their personality and attitude towards mankind my eyes readjusted and saw them more clearly - ugly, morally repugnant, repulsive.  Then I have seen some that our culture would not give a second glance, to be some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.

Once I hit the big 40 I started  to notice much change in my appearance.  Looser skin. Wrinkles. Age spots. More gray hair.  All of which are temporal. I can say without much reservation that I am at peace with most of this.   To some degree I am even at peace with my gray hair, I once let all of my beautiful auburn hair dye grow out to reveal all of the shinny silver strands that hid beneath.  I may be embarking that again soon....  but for now I am back to enjoying the deep browns in my hair.   Do I want to be youthful? Mmmm. I think as a near 50 year old woman, I don't seek to be youthful. I seek to be energetic, fruitful and at peace with the stage of life I am in.  I seek to be healthy, wise and useful. I seek to be active and always growing.  I seek to be involved and I seek friendships with people of all ages. I learned a lesson from a dear lady years ago... having friends who are not only in our age group, but also a bit younger than us will help to "keep" our minds young.

We (as a culture) are constantly taking selfies.  Is there anything wrong with taking photos of ourselves, no, I am not saying that at all.  But we have become a culture where everything revolves around staying youthful, being youthful and in the meantime discarding older people as obsolete. No wonder a large number of those starting to see aging show up on their physical bodies are scrambling to attain youth at whatever cost.

It is strange as I think back over my childhood. My dearest aunt was pretty lively. She was always smiling and always a blessing to be in the presence of.  Oh how I have missed her. It has been almost 25 years since she passed and I can not recall a moment of her discussing her weight, her aging, or her failing body.   She was one of the most beautiful people I knew.  The same goes for my grandmothers - I do not recall either of my grandmothers fussing over their silver adorned heads, their ages spots or even the first wrinkle on their faces.  I like it that way.  I hope I am able to carry on as they did in their aging years, gracefully.

Strange as it is, even though my body is showing signs of age, I find myself at most peace with who I am.  I am sure for me, that has just come with maturity.  Am I unhappy from time to time with my body because my pants fit to tightly...yes. But as a whole, I am at peace with where time has taken me.